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the near relation to him of his sheep and of his lambs? Tha: he should assume to them the tender, gentle and endearing character of their thepherd ? This is a branch of the unfearcha. ble riches of his love. It ought to be reflected back with affec. tionate wonder and adoring admiration. With propriety may we employ the rapturous language of the loving and beloved desciple, “ Behold what manner of love is this,” that the Sa. viour hath bestowed upon us, that any such as we fould be selected for his sheep, that he should lay down his life for us. Truly he is the good shepherd, who gave his life for the sheep. “O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and know. “ ledge of God, how unscarchable are his judgments and his
ways past finding out?” “O that we may be able to com
prehend with all faints, what is the breadth and length and “ depth and height, and to know the love of Christ which “palleth knowledge." Should not the love of Christ have a sensible and con training influence upon our hearts? Should we not live wholly to him? Ought we not to imbibe the pirit of St. Paul, who in raptures taid, “ For me to live is Christ “ and to die is gain.” What can be more ungrateful, unten. der and unkind than to offend him, than not to love him with the most ardent affection? How dear ought every thing to be to us which appertains to him? How should we take pleasure in his word, his truths, his worship, his fabbaths, ordinances and people ? Every thing which wears his image or seal, should be to us instead of a thousand arguments to induce us to etteem, Tefpect and cleave to him.
Secondly, this subject calls for folemn searchings of heart. In the light of it, we ought to try and examine ourselves. Do we belong to his flock, or are we all of the number of his sheep? How blessed and happy should we be, if this were the cale? What a glorious assembly, what a precious church? But alas ! however extenlive our charity, there oan be no juit ground for fo enlivening a hope. It is a melancholy truth, they are not all Ifrael, who are of Israel. Some, perhaps, not a few, who have no lor or interest in this matter. Let us therefore to-day, make a serious enquiry into this bufiness. What will it avail us to comfort ourselves that we are of Christ's flock and confort with it, if, when the great dividing day commences, we hall be separated from it, as a thepherd divideth his ibeep from the goats, and hear the awful sentence pronounced upon us, “ Depart from me ye curled.” Wherefore let us, in the presence of a heart searching and rein trying God, look into our hearts and into our lives. Have we the nature of the sheep of Chriit ?--Are we of an holy nature ! Do we chuse holiness for its own intrinsic beauties and excel. lencies?-Have we the taste and fagacity of his sheep, to discern between good and evil --To discover ipiritual fouü, from that which is noxious and corrupted ? --Do we find puntures in his word and ordinances, which are sweet to ona touls as she honey, and the honeycomb to the taite :--Do we know Christ's voice, underttand, and diftinguith it froin the voice of firangers ?-Can we discriminate the pure doctrines of grace, from falfe colourings or corrupt mixtures, which are poison. ous to Theep, and deltructive to the ford?-Do we follow the good shepherd, wheresoever he leads ?--Is his example prevai. lingly before us :--Are we frequently recalling it to remembrance !--Is the imitation of it the joy and rejoicing of our hearts?
Those who can understandingly and with a good conscience answer these queries in the affirmative, have reason for consolation and hope. “Rejoice in the Lord, and again I say unto " you rejoice.” “ Fear not, little flock, ye are the charge of « him, who shall feed his flock like a shepherd, gather the " lambs with his arms, carry them in his bosom, and gently « lead those that are with young." I mal not enlarge may the Lord give you understanding in all things, and make you all the sheep of his fold, that you may fing eternal halle. lujahs to him in the celestial mansions, to whom be honor and glory forever, and ever. Amen.
The pleasantnefs of Religion.
Prov. ii. 17. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her
paths are peace.
IF we look into the sacred oracles of God, and take a survey of the religion exhibited therein, we will find it represented to us ander various forms; sometimes as pleasing to heaven, therefore we should be religious ; fometimes as of the greatest advantage and benefit to ourselves. At one time it is described as the only method of escaping misery, at another as the only way to eternal felicity. The Holy spirit hath stated it before us in every point of view, in order to gain our attention, captivate our hearts, and engage us in the practice thereof. And as the omniscient Jehovah well knew that nothing made a deeper impression on the human mind than pleasure, hence in our text it is stated before us in this form also, to see what effect it will produce, when it is represented in a way which is univer, sally courted by mankind. “ Her ways are ways of pleasant, " ness and all her paths are peace.” These words are a part of the encomium which Solomon, in the context, is poúring forth upon the excellencies, advantages and bleflings, of wisdom. “ Happy is the man that getteth wisdom, that findeth under“ standing ; for the merchandise of it is better than the mere “ chandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She “is more precious than rubies; and all the things thou canst “ desire are not to be compared unto her. Length of days are ia “ her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honor.” It is well known that Solomon generally employs the term wis. dom to express the same thing with what is usually intended by the word religion, and wickedness he commonly ftiles folly. Rcligious men are designated wise, and the wicked fools. Sure. ly there can be no wisdom fo truly excellent as religion; and there can be no folly greater than iniquity and despising our souls. It is predicated of wildom or religion, that her ways are pleasantness. They are not merely pleasant or pleasurable, but they are pleasantness, in an abstract and absolute manner. As if pleasantness was to be found in those ways, and not in any other. This is declared of her ways, that is, her duties,, exo ercises and employments. These things are pleasure in them. selves, and they issue in eternal felicity. The ways which lead to heaven are pleasant, and nothing but unmixed pleafure enters and dwells in that blessed abode. Delightful walks thro’ shady groves, fruitful gardens or flowery parterres, scarce. ly any thing captivates or charms the human mind more than these. Travelling in them affords delight, and they frequently lead to places of the highest entertainment, where every sense is regaled, every passion foothed and every appetite gratified. But what are the highest wrought, and mott refined pleasures offense, in comparison of mental pleasures and spiritual de. lights. The royal preacher infcribes upon the former vanity and vexation of spirit, while the latter is preferable to all the gold of Ophir, and the riches of Potofi. It is further fub. joined, “That all her paths are peace ?" Ways may be pleasant and delightful, yet not guarded by peace. Asfallins and robbers may lurk in the arbors to annoy the unwary